The Father is a psychological family drama film co-written and directed by Florian Zeller, based on his 2012 play Le Père. A French-British co-production, the film stars Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, and Olivia Williams, and follows an aging man who must deal with his progressing memory loss.
And that’s basically the uncomplicated premise of The Father. So do not look for traditional story structure or elements that we usually base our analyses and reviews on at Power of Pop. That’s not to say that this film is a pointless exercise like Nomadland and fails to keep our engagement throughout. In fact, the opposite is true. Let’s examine why that is the case, and why The Father is wildly successful while Nomadland is an abject story failure.
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Two key points. First, is the thematic core of the story – which is the impact of dementia on memory and sense of identity. This is handled superbly in this movie by keeping the story flowing from the lone perspective of the titular character, Anthony. Thus, we experience what poor Anthony is experiencing – which is memory loss resulting in massive disorientation. Situations change, characters change and time shifts occur so frequently that by the end, Anthony (and the engaged audience) loses his bearings completely.
This is by far, the most harrowing movie about dementia we have ever seen. Quite literally, we are put into Anthony’s mind and it is a terrifying place to be. In many ways, The Father is a horror movie but it’s one that has no escape, because it’s real. One would not wish Anthony’s fate on your worst enemy. Sigh.
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Second, the performance of Anthony Hopkins absolutely nails the devastation that the main character experiences during the course of his debilitating mental decline perfectly. Yet another stellar performance from an actor who continues to delivers the goods in his senior years. We also what to acknowledge the excellent support provided by the likes of Olivia Colman, Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots, Mark Gatiss and Olivia Williams — all familiar faces to fans of British film and TV.
Suffice to say that The Father is highly recommended. Be warned though that it is depressing but a significant work that will terrify and sadden you with equal measure.
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